Vendors complain of slow sales

Lost amidst colourful boxes, pouches and trays in different shapes and sizes in bright green, yellow, red and blue, Mythili H.V. is in the middle of planning a perfect Sankranti festival at the Malleswaram market.

This 55-year-old homemaker is computing the ideal yellu-bella proportion — just the right amount of fried gram, sesame, groundnuts chopped copra, jaggery bits and, of course, sugar moulds. This is usually distributed along with bananas and sugarcane pieces.

Scaling down

Times have changed and the festival is no longer as “big”, she remarked. “Earlier six families, including ours, would celebrate it in a grand way [in our neighbourhood]. New clothes, good food and distributing ellu-bella to as many houses as possible were the highlights then.” Preparations would begin at least 10 days before the festival: “We would cut coconut and jaggery in small sizes and prepare the yellu- bela mixture at home.”

Ms. Mythili scaled down celebrations further after packing off her two sons to the U.S. “Earlier I would distribute yellu-bella to at least 30 houses. Now, it’s only a few and we celebrate it only to keep up the tradition.”

Girijamma P.R., all of 70 but still doughty enough to elbow through crowds in the market, agreed.“I have four children and all of them would go around the area with a steel bucket to distribute yellu-bella to the entire colony. Now the celebrations are restricted to our family: the charm of community celebrations has vanished.”

Traders also acknowledge the new-age approach to the festival. T.K. Nagaraju of S.V. Food Products said: “People used to buy yellu-bella and boxes [to distribute them] in bulk. They now buy only in small quantities but are more quality conscious.”

Increase in prices

As usual, Bangaloreans complained of rising costs that forced them to economise. “For middle-class people like us, it is very difficult to cope up with the price rise. The price of yellu-bella has increased by 30 to 40 per cent over the last year,” said said Rama Dasharathy.

Vendors also acknowledged that the cost of ellu and bella has increased by a huge margin this year as the cost of the raw materials has increased.

Slow sales

Vendors concurred.Madegowda G., selling his ware at the Malleswaram market, said: “A mixed bag of yellu-bella that was Rs. 150 per kg last year is now Rs. 220.” Vendors grumbled about poor sales, but consoled themselves they would pick up once closer to Sankranti, which is on January 14.

Vasuki of Rama Traders in Basavangudi also reported a 15 to 20 per cent increase in prices of both yellu-bella components as well as pouches and boxes.

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